Seven tips for writers when working with an editor
For any writer/ author, before they hand in their work to an editor, I am sure he/she wants their work to be as polished as possible. This goes for when they are either turning their manuscript over to a freelance editor or at a publishing house. Below are some things that editors wish writers knew, or rather, seven tips for writers when working with an editor.
- Not all editing is proofreading. The first step on editing begins with developmental or macro editing. This handles issues such as pacing, plot and characterisation. The second step is copy editing or line editing. Here, the main focus is on the paragraph and sentence-level changes. Lastly, proofreading, which deals with any remaining errors or issues including those on punctuations or misspellings.
- Formatting helps in a huge way. Even though find and replace can be used, minutes spent fixing those formatting issues eat up time. Here are some pointers writers can use:
- Use a classic font such as Times New Roman, or an easy-to-read font
- Indent, don’t use tabs
- Have one space between sentences
- You can double space your manuscript without an extra line break between them
- Set up your word document with1”margins
- Make sure you are using em dashes, en dashes, and hyphens appropriately
- You can use “smart” quotes (when the quotation mark or apostrophe curls) instead of “straight” quotes (when the quotation mark or apostrophe is straight up and down)
- Do a spell check. Read through the entire document to fix as many mistakes as you can. As mentioned in the previous article, an editorial style sheet can help too. For example with names of characters in your book (Fredrick, Fredric or Frederick), which can cause confusion for the editor as they go through your book. Taking note of all these small but important details will help the editor as they polish your manuscript.
- Speaking of style sheets, they are amazing. Style sheets contain pertinent details for a manuscript. In as much as editors make these while working on a project, as a writer, you can turn one in alongside your manuscript and save your editor some time. Like our character’s name in the previous point, you will show your editor that you have done due diligence in making sure that their name is consistent throughout the story.
- Use track changes. While working on your manuscript or suggesting changes, you can use Microsoft Word’s Track Changes to show the editor where changes have been made so that he/she can review and accept the changes. For Google Docs, new changes can also be seen once the author gives permission to the editor to edit the document online.
- Be prepared to do a bit of editing too. For example, if a character is falling flat, your editor will offer suggestions on how to give them more life. They can then give you this information to be able to go through and rewrite those parts.
- If you disagree with a change, please discuss it with your editor to see if you can find a compromise. Editors suggest changes that they think will make your book stronger, they don’t do this to torture you with a million tweaks. You need to be happy with the end product, so if you disagree, be open-minded enough to find a compromise.